An interview with Pia Fenton, a.k.a. Christina Courtenay

ChristinaCourtenayMarch2013I am delighted to welcome award-winning author and new chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Pia Fenton, who writes as Christina Courtenay.

Congratulations on becoming the chair of the RNA. How much of an influence has the RNA had on your own career?
I think it’s safe to say that without the RNA I wouldn’t be published at all!  I found my way to the association at a time when I was about to give up on writing and it changed everything for me.  When I sent in my first m/s to the New Writers’ Scheme and got a critique back from someone who took my writing seriously and liked what I’d done, it was an amazing feeling.  And although there was a lot wrong with that first novel, I was basically on the right track and needed to be told what my mistakes were, so that was really helpful.  The other thing the RNA has done for me is give me wonderful writing friends and critique partners – I can never thank them enough!

Childhood is a time when imaginations really develop. Do you think that yours influenced your writing style and interests?

 Yes, absolutely.  I was hooked on fairy tales with handsome princes and happy ever afters and that’s what I want now too, albeit a grown up version.  I was also always interested in history, so for me writing historicals was inevitable.

Would you agree that your work reflects your unique cross-cultural experience?

I think so, yes, as most of my books feature heroes and heroines from different cultures who have to overcome their differences and realise that we are all the same underneath.  Also that no one culture is necessarily right about everything, we have to compromise.  Being half Swedish and half English I can see things from two sides, and having lived abroad has given me a different perspective on things as well.

Could you give us an insight into your own preferred way of working when you set out on a new novel adventure?

It’s a bit messy I’m afraid!  It usually starts with a scene that appears in my head, often triggered by something or someone (a handsome actor?) and then the rest of the story develops from there.  That scene can be anywhere in the book, so sometimes I work backwards, sometimes forwards.  As I said, it’s a bit chaotic but somehow it always works out in the end!  And incidentally, I always know how I want it to end, even if I don’t know anything else.

In August your first YA novel is published by Choc Lit. Could you tell us about it and if this is a permanent change of direction for you?

As I’d been writing historicals for many years, with all the research that entails, I decided to give myself permission to write something else just for fun last year.  The result was a contemporary YA book that needed no research and reflected the sort of high school experience I would have liked to have had myself.  Here is the blurb for New England Rocks:-

NER FrontFirst impressions, how wrong can you get?

When Rain Mackenzie is expelled from her British boarding school, she can’t believe her bad luck. Not only is she forced to move to New England, USA, she’s also sent to the local high school, as a punishment.
Rain makes it her mission to dislike everything about Northbrooke High, but what she doesn’t bank on is meeting Jesse Devlin…
Jesse is the hottest guy Rain’s ever seen and he plays guitar in an awesome rock band!
There’s just one small problem …  Jesse already has a girlfriend, little miss perfect Amber Lawrence, who looks set to cause trouble as Rain and Jesse grow closer.
But, what does it matter? New England sucks anyway, and Rain doesn’t plan on sticking around…
Does she?

I hadn’t intended to send it to my publisher, but eventually I did and Choc Lit decided they wanted to start a YA line, which was great!  I’ve since allowed myself some more time off from the historicals, so this is the first in a series.  The second one will hopefully be out next year.  But I’ll still be writing historicals and time slips as well.

What is next for Christina Courtenay?

I’ve just finished writing the third book in the Kinross trilogy, Monsoon Mists.  It’s gone off to Choc Lit to see if it passes muster, so now I can concentrate on something else for a while.  In February next year I have another time slip novel coming out, The Secret Kiss of Darkness – I love time slips, so am very excited about that – and as I said, after that hopefully number two in the YA series.

Sincerest thanks for taking the time to complete this interview.

Thank you very much for inviting me!

More by Christina:

  • New England Rocks, paperback out on 7th August:-
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16 thoughts on “An interview with Pia Fenton, a.k.a. Christina Courtenay

  1. Janet Gover says:

    Wow – Christina you certainly are busy. Your head must be spinning at times with so many ideas. Still – as someone who loves your books – I’m glad to hear about what’s coming. Really looking forward to the next Kinross book.

  2. Angela Britnell says:

    Interesting to read more about your writing method – we’re all so different in our process. Good luck with the new YA book and it must make a real contrast to write after your historicals.

  3. Liv Thomas says:

    I have NER ready and waiting on my Kindle. Christina is one of my favourite authors ever since I read the fantastic Trade Winds and its sequel, Highland Storrms. So prolific and versatile – amazing author.

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